Strength Training Can Rehabilitate Your Brain

There is mounting evidence that strength training can provide a wide range of advantages for those who participate in it, from becoming more visually buff to reinforcing strong bones and preventing muscle mass loss later in life. Yet, there is another organ in the body which strength training may also protect: the brain.

As we age our brains shrink in volume, especially in the frontal region, which is responsible for higher order thinking and judgment. The changes in our vasculature and other factors can lead to the development of lesions in the white matter in this area. While lesions can be identified early in brain scans, the cognitive effects may not be noticeable until much later in life.

Curious researchers tested a hypothesis on how strength training may affect the development of white matter lesions and were pleased to find that the development of lesions slowed significantly in many of the subjects. It seems that hitting the gym can prevent cognitive decline. But what kind of training—and how much—is necessary to protect us from the degenerative effects of aging?

The researchers of the study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, followed 54 women, aged 65-75, who followed different training regimens for one year. All of the women studied had evidence of white matter lesions when the study began. One group engaged in once-weekly resistance training, another group twice-weekly, and the third group a twice-weekly “balance and tone” routine. The strength training exercises included squats, lunges and free weights and each participant’s program became progressively more challenging so they could complete 2 sets of 8 reps of the movements.

After one year, brain scans revealed that the twice-weekly strength training group had significantly lower white-matter lesions. The authors are hopeful of the study’s implications on both men’s and women’s health. Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, P.T., Ph.D., says, “From the data we generated, as well as understanding the benefit of resistance training on cardiometabolic and cardiovascular health, one could reasonably hypothesize that long-term resistance training could prevent [white-matter] lesion development and progression.”

So, there you have it. One more morsel of scientific findings that support including strength and resistance training into your daily routine for the benefit of your health—no matter what age. The only question left to ask is “Do you even lift?”

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113 comments

Sonia M

Thanks for sharing

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Lisa M
Lisa M4 months ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M4 months ago

Noted.

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgenabout a year ago

Thank you

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Elena Poensgen
Elena Poensgenabout a year ago

Thank you

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Beth M.
Beth Mabout a year ago

ty

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey1 years ago

Got to get back to the gym

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Deborah Servey
Deborah Servey1 years ago

Just another reason to up my sessions with my weights at home!

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Cedar F.
Past Member 1 years ago

I agree with DEAC- I don't see why it would work but strength training sure can't hurt if done correctly.

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